Google set to kill link ads

Google has a way of reporting paid links now. They say buying links is an attempt to game their pagerank algorithm and they want you to report sites that sell or buy paid links.

They agree links are a good way of advertising and are not against it, but they want those that display text link to put the rel="nofollow" attribute in the links. Using the "nofollow" attribute will means that GoogleBot will not follow the link, thus will not use it when computing the page rank for the destination url.

I think the only reason you would want text links on a site is because of that, to get a higher page rank and relevance, so by requiring webmasters to use nofollow, they are just killing text link advertising networks like Text Link Ads that work especially because they sell link ads that are followed and transfer page rank.

Google says this violates their guidelines. How can you violate a guideline, you can violate a rule, but if it's just a guideline that means you shouldn't be penalized for not following it.
And there are other problems with this policy. Links are supposed to mean that the owner of the site thinks that some other site is relevant, and that is why he links to it. Paid or not it can be relevant. Page rank is about relevancy, right ?
If I want my site in google search ads, I pay google for it, does that mean my ads are not relevant ? Google says it shows contextual ads because they are relevant to the content the user is seeing. It seems to me, it's relevant only if you pay google for the ad.

And here's another problem: How can google tell if the person that reports such violation does not lie? If I want to get my competitor out of google index or set him on a lower page rank I could just report him for buying text links. A lot of web sites have text links pointing to them, paid or not. It's hard to tell. Some disclose them, other's don't. This may influence the ones that do disclose them, not to disclose the links anymore. Why add to the risk of being reported?

9 thoughts on “Google set to kill link ads

  1. It’s an interesting conundrum. We’ve been hearing this for a long time and I’m just not sure how they’re going to evaluate paid links vs. natural links in a fair way. I have several clients who have “reported” their competitors to Google already. It’s full-on guerrilla-link-warfare!

  2. that’s crazy. there’s no way to evaluate in a fair way. This will only make webmasters hide the paid links better. Right now they are all in once place. We should expect to see paid links hidden in text. Actually we’ll just guess, because they will not be disclosed.

    1. I don’t think concentrating would help in any way. What could they do? start a service like akismet ? Google will make webmasters angry but I don’t think they will switch to yahoo ads or at least not because of this policy.

  3. You are correct. I don’t think google is thinking throught he end game on this. Right now, many webmasters and bloggers have disclosure policies on-site and in-post for paid links and reviews. If google ever tweaks their algorithm to penalize these sites, paid links won’t go away – they’ll just be undisclosed. I know I can work paid links into my content seamlessly right now, but I just prefer to be transparent and honest.

    Your point about relevancy is key. It’s not as though there are a bunch of ads for life insurance websites that are using anchor text that applies to florida orange juice – they use anchor text for life insurance to improve their SERPs for those phrases. If people want to report others, report them for irrelevant linking practices.

    1. I agree about the fact that people should report irrelevant links. It would be a lot easier to determine irrelevant links for a bot, and the results would be fair. Actually this could be done even without the need for people to report.
      How hard it would be to determine if link anchor and the content of the page where the link is or even the content of more pages on the site, is similar to the page or site where the link is pointing? Maybe this would be too costly for google….

  4. Google instead of penalizing the sites for paid links, must consider giving those links less ranking and give more to normal links.

    This way, the advertisers are happy, they still get their PR links and the bloggers are happy to hold on to link selling incomes.

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